Media Week – One-Sided History; Freedom Riders?; Newton’s Nonsense
Nov 25, 2011 | Jamie Hyams
As part of its “Lost Worlds’ series, SBS TV is showing a seven-part series from Britain’s Channel 4 titled “The Bible: a History”. The second instalment (13/11), “Abraham”, was presented by Rageh Omaar, a former BBC journalist now with al-Jazeera. He described Israel as “land the Palestinians have occupied for centuries and which the Jews believe belongs to them.” He seeks to cast the Jewish claim to Israel solely in religious terms, neglecting to mention that Jews have occupied the land continuously for thousands of years. He also referred to Hebron as “the frontline in the battle between Palestinians who have lived here for centuries and Jewish settlers who think that through Abraham, God promised this land to them and them alone.” Again, he ignores that there was a Jewish community in Hebron until 1929, when they were driven out in a murderous pogrom.
It appears that Sheera Frenkel fell for some Palestinian propaganda. In an article that appeared in the Age and Brisbane’s Courier-Mail (17/11), she wrote, “Six Palestinian ‘freedom riders’ have been arrested for attempting to enter Jerusalem on buses designated for Israelis.” While they were arrested for attempting to enter Jerusalem without permits, a condition of entry for West Bank Palestinian residents due to the terrorism of the intifada, the buses are not designated for Israelis – any West Bank resident can use them. However, Frenkel continued, “Israel operates two bus lines in the West Bank. Only Israelis, however, are allowed to use the bus system.” Again, this is simply not true. Ironically, Frenkel writes, “Many of the Jewish passengers said they were surprised to learn Palestinians were not allowed on the Israeli bus system.” It’s hardly any wonder they were surprised, given there was no truth to the allegation.
The six Palestinians cynically compared themselves to the American Freedom Riders of the 1960s. Troy Lennon, history editor of the Daily Telegraph clearly swallowed this, writing (17/11), “The six Palestinians drew inspiration from the Freedom Riders, groups of American whites and African-Americans who rode together on buses to the Deep South to challenge segregation in 1961.” He then gave a history of the genuine Freedom Riders.
While Israel has been urging the Palestinians to resume negotiations, the Palestinians, having earlier refused generous offers of statehood, have, since early 2009, basically refused to talk at all, now preferring to take unilateral steps at the UN to avoid the need for any compromise. However, Australia Palestine Advocacy Network Vice President Robert Newton, in the Canberra Times (16/11), claimed the Israeli government is “dominated by a number of extremist fringe parties anxious to avoid a peace settlement with the Palestinians,” and that “the reality is that Abbas has no partner for peace in Netanyahu.” He also claimed that by opposing UNESCO’s counter-productive step of admitting the Palestinians, Australia was supporting “policies which offer no hope for peace.” In fact, encouraging the Palestinians to believe they can achieve their aims without compromise is the policy that offers no hope for peace.